The 80 reviews on Amazon UK give it an average four stars, and this shows the opacity of averages because this is very much a novel of some highs and more lows.
- The book is leaden to read, only just motivating a turn of the page
- The characters, quite well done, are uniformly unattractive and irritating
- The immersion into a well-imagined future society is brilliant
- The plot is detailed and somewhat engaging but completely implausible
- The ending leaves a multitude of loose-ends flapping.
Dr Reynolds is a classic type of science-fiction writer: smart, well-educated scientifically, at home with advanced tech, improving in his characterisation, ponderous; Stephen Baxter is another.
"The plot," I hear you ask, "What's the plot?"
From the Amazon site (inside flap):
Earth, the 22nd century.
The Mechanism knows everything. It knows where you are. It knows what you are thinking, what you are feeling. There is no crime. You are safe.
But in a Utopia like this keeping a secret can be a deadly business.
Geoffrey and Sunday Akinya want no part of their family and its wealth. The Akinyas have ridden Africa 's economic boom into orbit and beyond. Wherever mankind has gone in the Solar system the Akinyas have profited.
But Geoffrey and Sunday have rejected it all. Geoffrey conducts research into elephant cognition in the shadow of Kilimanjaro, Sunday makes her way as an artist beyond the reach of The Mechanism on the far side of the moon.
But when their Grandmother dies she leaves behind a secret that throws Geoffrey and Sunday into a desperate race against their family. A race run beneath the unblinking eye of The Mechanism.